Why Not Be Happy

I have only been around for thirty-one years.

In reality, it hasn’t been that long, and I get that. A flash in the pan, a peanut on the farm, a spec on the beach – whatever vastly cliche metaphor you want to throw out. It all counts, and it all is real. But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t learned a thing or two from the trips around the block I have taken.

If there is anything I have noticed about myself over my time here, it’s that I am very good at observing.

Observing others, situations, events around me, and even myself. While I talk a lot – and I mean a LOT – I like to spend time listening as well. Tuning in to those around me, and what I notice going on. But I will be honest with you that the point of this whole rambling writing is about myself, not others. Because I have noticed something within myself, and I have realized the plan that I, and maybe everyone, should be following.

Why not be happy?

It really is a simple thing, but a deep and vast realization. Something that I have been sitting on for a while, pondering if it really was all that easy.

Truth be told – it isn’t.

Millennials have seen a lot in their lives, honestly probably too much. But that’s not the point. The point is that these things are going to keep coming, days will be tough eight days a week, and there will always be something to worry about. But I have realized that the time has come for me to just stop. Stop and think. Stop and realize that I don’t want to live in misery, and neither should anyone else.

Remember, you can’t pay your bills with tears.

Bills are paid, and lives are lived by experiences, memories, and moments that we treasure forever. Careers are made from passion, they aren’t made from anger.

I have finally come to realize that, I refuse to not enjoy myself while I am here – because really what other choice do I, or any of us, have? We can choose to live our lives in misery, almost enjoying the pain of daily stress and anxiety. Or we can choose to be happy. Find happiness and good in every situation – and that’s where I want to be.

I want to be happy, and I will be happy. I will enjoy every moment, and make myself smile every day.

Because I am here to be happy, and nothing else.

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Sunshine Where It Needs To Be

It’s been a long winter…like a LONG winter.

I finally got a great weekend to take some photos, and jumped on the chance – and so did many others.

Here’s to looking forward to a summer of great opportunity!

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Serenity

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Never Give Up

I always thought this photo was way too blown out – but I learned!

It’s winter here in the Midwest – so naturally, some of my work on the photography side has taken the backseat. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love taking shots of snow – but I don’t like being outside THAT much. Because of the indoor nature of the season, I also usually use this time to revisit old web projects and tests that either didn’t work out, or just need some polishing.

So I set aside a weekend, actually two, and just reworked and reenvisioned some old projects – and from it, I learned a lot.

For one, it was very interesting – and even hilarious – to see some of the first work I ever tried my hand at. This includes some poorly lit photos, and some shoe-string, barely-functional JavaScript I had written to create a random dice roll (every developer’s first project, essentially).

But I soon realized how important it was to see these projects. Not only to see how far I have come and all that I have learned – but also that there were some gems hidden deep in my early years that actually turned out to be amazingly beneficial and workable. This included the above photo, which I initially thought was way too blown out, but turned out to be a store-quality shot. It also included some boilerplate code that I use to this day.

Long story short, never give up on your old project. Go check them out, get new eyes on them. You never know what you will find.

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The Open Water

You know, I was thinking about this photo today. I don’t know why, probably because this was such a wild trip, and I am missing traveling around the country and seeing the beauty it has.

It really dawned on me, just now actually, how amazingly lonely it was there. My wife and I were, quite literally, the only ones around. There were more buffalo around than human beings. And it’s unreal to think about how on an Earth of 7+ billion people, you could be this alone.

I miss that calm.

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Golden Hour In Utah

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Nearly Spring

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Things I Want My Kids to Know From Their Dad

I sit now, late in the evening, eyes heavy after a long night of changing diapers, filling bottles, and calming cries – followed by a long day of work, plus a little more work. My back is sore, my head is pounding, but I am okay with it all, it is worth it. But I can promise you it wasn’t an easy adventure to this point in my life – to this mental state.

As I write this, I am thirty-one years old…or young depending on how you look at it and/or feel that day. A father of two, a lovely daughter, and a budding baby boy (sorry any future children who aren’t on this planet quite yet). Just recently, I finally became okay with where I am at, who I am, what I do, and what I have done. It was a journey that took a lot of reflection, hard work, late nights, and determination to be the better person I can be. It also took a lot of finally being okay with the fact that I was struggling, and that I needed to figure out where to go and what to do – and recognizing something wasn’t quite right. It took courage, and a lot of support from my wife and family, but I made it.

These are all things I would like my children to hear from their father.

Over the course of my life, I have seen, witnessed, and endured a number of world-changing events that have shaped my life, just like many other Millennials. Including a terrorist attack, a housing market crash, a recession, a pandemic, another recession, and war. All things that the generation above me didn’t have to deal with until later in life, I handled all before I was twenty-nine. All things that shaped my generation and who we wanted to be/eventually became. Something that I truly feel crafted the person that I am today, and the person I enjoy being.

Looking back at all that I have seen and been through, I realize that I am an incredibly lucky man. I never struggled, have a great life, and a great family. But that doesn’t mean it was always sunshine and roses. In fact, I was struggling for quite a while, I just never realized it until I was staring it in the face.

My entire life, I have always been involved in so many projects that it’s hard to keep count. From photography, to radio, to writing, to podcasting – I have truly done it all. Really, I was keeping myself busy – doing anything I thought may lead to something, while never really going anywhere at all, at least how I came to see it. But I was young, adventurous, and the world seemed so open to me. And it was.

But after a while, after seeing and dealing with so many things no one had ever seen before, I soon became internally disillusioned about what I had accomplished in life, worried that I had really done nothing at all. The photos I took? Who cared. The books I wrote? Doesn’t matter. It all seemed so valueless compared to the world around me. It seemed as if I had thrown everything away to follow a passion that had no substance at all, like everyone around me had purpose and meaning – and I was just floating by, doing things that, really, anyone else could do. And it took a serious turn when the pandemic hit, and I had nothing to do and nowhere to go. Suddenly, I was thrown into a world where I didn’t provide anything worthwhile at all. Or at least that’s how I perceived it.

It was at this point when I really realized how much the world around me affected my perception of reality, and how it was tearing me down.

In 2001, I was eleven years old. The moment those towers came down, I never again saw the country around me not at war again – constantly being bombarded with messaging about the heroes of our military (which they are). Then in 2008, just as I was ending high school, the country went into a free-fall, and suddenly only the most mandatory careers survived, and if you weren’t in that group, you better find something else to do.

Then came 2020.

It was supposed to be a year of jubilee for me and my family – my daughter arrived in January. But again, as life had had it, there would be yet another world-changing event only one month later, the granddaddy of them all. The COVID Pandemic.

Yet again, and again, I was thrust into a world where what I did suddenly REALLY didn’t matter, because in reality…it physically didn’t. I wasn’t saving lives, I wasn’t essential to the operation of the world around me – I was just…here. Yet again, ingrained in my psyche was that what I did was inconsequential, at least in the grand scheme of things. I feel this is when things really started to deteriorate.

I was a twenty-nine-year-old new father, my wife and I had no clue what we were doing, I was sleep-deprived and panicked. And all of a sudden we had to do it in a world where we couldn’t see anyone, do anything, or even continue with our normal lives. What I did, didn’t matter, and I was in a free-fall.

It was one of the most difficult times of my life, and one of the biggest tests I had to ever face. A culmination of something that I didn’t even realize had been brewing for almost three decades. A battle of myself versus the world that I didn’t even know I was fighting, but here I was.

It was at this point that I knew I had to fight back, claw my way out of the path I was headed down, and be more open about what I was going through and what I was struggling with. Thankfully, I have the most supportive wife in the world, who encouraged me to work my way out of what I was going through – and I will forever be grateful. This eventually lead to me improving my artistic skills even more, refining what I did, and pushing ahead.

I am not sure when I turned the corner, when I finally became okay with who I am, and what I do with my life – my creative endeavors that months ago were “nonessential.” But I am glad I did, and I am glad that I slowly came to the realization that what I do DOES make a difference, and it does matter. People don’t always admit it, but this world needs art, creativity, and something outside of the gears and bolts of what keeps things moving, and I will forever be happy to provide that. Something not everyone can.

From all of this, there are a few things that I want my kids to hear from their own father.

Life is truly a weird thing. You will have plenty of ups, and just as many downs. You will feel elated, and sometimes worthless entirely. But none of that matters if you love who you have become, and who you are. You can truly do anything in this world, and you should. Never be afraid to do anything because it is a “waste of time.” There is no such thing if it’s something that you deem important, and brings you happiness.

You’re going to come across a lot of trying situations, ones that will test you to your core – but nothing is impossible to overcome if you believe and trust in yourself, and have confidence that you’re doing the right thing. And while it may not seem like it at the time, it will always be the right decision.

No matter what you do, who you become, you will always be important, and you will always be a gift to the world around you. That goes for anyone. We all are here to bring a little life into this place we call Earth. And if that’s as simple as a short essay – so be it.

You never know who you will reach.

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Rare Sun on a Snowy Day

If you have followed my page for any amount of time, you will notice one thing about my work… I am barely in it! Meaning I have, probably, around three headshots. Which, isn’t good since I have been doing this since…well… about 2012.

Anyways, today was a strange day. A rare day of sun with a side of snow. So I decided to take advantage of it, and turn around the camera for once.

Now I can finally update LinkedIn.

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Behind The Scenes Of A Photobox

Sometimes, the best subject of something is a little broader.

The evening I took this photo, I was having trouble coming up with something to take a photo of. I was trying new techniques with my lenses, settings, and subjects. But no matter what I did, I just wasn’t getting what I wanted – which happens from time to time. No matter what you do, you just can’t get what you want.

I was wrapping everything up, when I took just one last shot of the photobox itself. My house was dark other than this setup, and it created a scene that almost told a story of that evening.

The night itself was the subject.

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